The use of sniffer dogs for early detection of cancer: a One Health approach

Am J Vet Res. 2023 Nov 11;85(1):ajvr.23.10.0222. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.23.10.0222. Print 2024 Jan 1.


This review, which is part of the "Currents in One Health" series, describes and evaluates the current research on the utilization of trained medical scent detection, aka "sniffer" dogs for the detection of diseases, with particular emphasis on neoplasia, both within human and veterinary patients. A recent study by the authors that used sniffer dogs to detect differences in saliva from dogs diagnosed with various neoplastic processes compared with healthy control dogs is described. The concept of One Health is explored by the description of previous studies that have utilized sniffer dogs in the detection of human neoplasia (focusing on lung, prostate, and breast cancer) and veterinary neoplasia and demonstrating that further research in this arena can benefit multiple species. Future avenues of research and utilization of these findings are outlined. The companion Currents in One Health by Ungar et al, JAVMA, January 2024, addresses the use of sniffer dogs to detect human COVID-19 infections.

Keywords: cancer; early detection; scent detection; sniffer dog; tumor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Dogs
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms* / veterinary
  • One Health*
  • Saliva
  • Working Dogs